Reinvestment zone proposed for Westinghouse

Mar 13, 2014
Community Impact

For years, development in southern Georgetown has been stagnant because of a lack of utilities in the area. However, as Round Rock’s development continues to push northward, Georgetown city officials think now is the right time to invest in infrastructure projects that could bring a wave of new development to Georgetown’s southern boundary

“The development is waiting to happen. The expensive and hard part is extending utilities,” said Russ Boles, a principal with Williamson County real estate firm Summit Commercial. “It has just taken Georgetown a while to build their infrastructure [in] that area. But they have a plan on how to pay for it, and obviously that is driven by developers and demand.”

The Round Rock Premium Outlets and its surrounding retail and dining developments as well as the Teravista neighborhood are a good sign for Georgetown, Georgetown Economic Development Director Mark Thomas said

Georgetown City Council could consider creating a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, in April to help fund nearly $46 million in infrastructure projects, including water, wastewater, utility and transportation projects, for 603 acres located near the intersection of I-35 and Westinghouse Road

A TIRZ is a special taxing district that caps property values at the value when the TIRZ is established. Any city property taxes collected on the increased property values are put into the TIRZ fund. Those dollars can only be used to fund improvements, such as roads and other infrastructure projects, in the zone

“The increase in valuation could be as high as $700 million by 2020 within the zone,” Rundell said. She added that, based on the increased value, the TIRZ revenue with 100 percent of the property tax collected is estimated to be $3 million per year by 2020

Projects considered for the TIRZ could include wastewater infrastructure, which is estimated to cost more than $7.7 million. Several road projects, including extending Oakmont Drive, that range in cost from $6.2 million to $28 million are also proposed

Thomas said that because several Georgetown city departments are working on design for projects in tandem with establishing the TIRZ, he expects a number of projects to begin soon after the TIRZ is created

“I think within a year there will be substantial construction on infrastructure,” Thomas said. “By the end of 2015, I think you would see substantial development activity.”

Round Rock and Georgetown officials said the Oakmont’s construction could open up the area for additional retail development

“I think Georgetown is seeing the wisdom because once [Oakmont] is constructed, all of the frontage along that new road more than likely is going to attract a high level of retail interest because Bass Pro [Shops] is there as an anchor,” Hudder said. “It makes sense for them to put the road in. Then they can develop the commercial property adjacent to the road, and it drives their tax base up.”

Other projects in the TIRZ could include up to 500,000 square feet in speculative office space for possible technology businesses or company headquarters, Thomas said

“We want to increase our odds and potential to have those kinds of jobs—especially headquarter locations and technology jobs—set up in Georgetown,” he said. “[This area] seemed like a natural place for this to occur.”

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